My network is in dire need of a cableteer!
April 19, 2010 11:20 AM   Subscribe

I think I'm in need of a network cableteer. The only problem is Yelp doesn't list cableteers.

I own a condo in LA and its pretty old. Currently I have my Apple Airport Extreme router plugged into a pair of 4 port SlingLinks - the main one in my office and one in the living room. The other end of the Slinglinks has an Xbox 360, a PS 3 and my Slingbox Pro plugged into it.

Whenever I wanted to watch a movie on one of my Firewire 800 drives, I'd use Rivet on my Macbook Pro to stream it ot my Xbox 360. It was hit and miss whether or not it worked. When it did work it would paly extremely choppy and I'd have to pause the video, let the network buffer it for a few minutes adn then it would paly without a hitch.

Well, my good friend and Mac buddy who I don't see very often has teh same setup at his house, but he doesn't use powerline adaptors. His network is all wired. And he was saying he doesn't get any lag or choppiness whilst streaming movies on his xbox.

So I've made the decision. Wireless is nice, but the fastest the PS3 will pick up is G wireless and thatis resulting in choppy playback. I want to wire my condo.

The problem - my office with the cable modem and router is about 50 feet away from the TV and separated by a hallway. I've heard running cable is easy, but I'm extremely busy at work and I'd like to outsource this work (cheaply if possible).

I've already bought a highly reviewed TrendNet 5 port 10/100/100 base T switch for the living room. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833156250

I just need someone to drill the holes and fish the cat6 through the walls. But I don't know what this job is called. Searches on Yelp and Craigslist for "network cable runner" and "network installation" have been a mixed bag.

Does anyone in Los Angeles have a good recommendation for a network cable installer? Or know where to find one? What kind of a price range am I looking at?
posted by AsRuinsAreToRome to Computers & Internet (33 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Before you go down the drilling-holes route, have you considered ethernet via power line? A friend of mine uses them and they seem pretty good. Here's an example ('up to 200Mbps' is claimed).
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 11:27 AM on April 19, 2010


le morte de bea arthur, the SlingLinks the asker talks about above are powerline ethernet adapters.
posted by zsazsa at 11:30 AM on April 19, 2010


Yea, I'm pretty sure thats what I'm using now. SlingLinks are powerline ethernet adaptors.

http://www.slingbox.com/go/slt
posted by AsRuinsAreToRome at 11:30 AM on April 19, 2010


You could hire an electrician for this kind of work.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:30 AM on April 19, 2010


Wouldn't somebody that specializes in networks do a better job than an electrician?
posted by AsRuinsAreToRome at 11:31 AM on April 19, 2010


I hired a basic electrician (in NYC) to do this. It was about $120 per outlet for Cat 6 cable. It's not very sexy but a basic electrician can lay the cable, drill the holes, install the jacks and test it all out.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:34 AM on April 19, 2010


So you're going MacBook via WiFi to the Airport, then via SlingLink to the Xbox? Have you tried plugging the MacBook into the AirPort or the SlinkLink directly? It seems like the latency and throughput issues are far more likely to be coming from the MacBook-to-Airport wireless connection than the powerline connection.
posted by enn at 11:37 AM on April 19, 2010


I'd also search for someone who does telephone wiring.
posted by sageleaf at 11:38 AM on April 19, 2010


Any electrician can do this for you.
posted by jjb at 11:39 AM on April 19, 2010


@enn

No, the Macbook Pro, the cable modem and the SlingLink is all wired to the router.
posted by AsRuinsAreToRome at 11:40 AM on April 19, 2010


I'd also search for someone who does telephone wiring.

That would be a good idea too. Running cable is running cable.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:41 AM on April 19, 2010


Many electricians have "low voltage" specialists who do this all the time.
posted by bgrebs at 11:45 AM on April 19, 2010


This job may not be as easy as you think. The difficulty (and therefore expense) will depend heavily on crawlspace access, and condos can be tough that way. Electricians are not going to do the best possible job, but they will probably be the cheapest option. The magic word for your Craigslist search is "low voltage," but unfortunately there is no standard for training or certification on the companies that do this work (aside from the very easily obtained C-7 contractor's license) and you'll see a wide variation in competence levels. CEDIA membership is a good indication of professionalism.
posted by contraption at 11:54 AM on April 19, 2010


Nthing an electrician. If you want to do this a little more on the cheap, get a spool of Cat 6, some modular ends, and a crimp tool, and then contact a few Craigslist advertisers (or post your own listing) and get quotes -- often there are journeymen and electrician's assistants available who have a lot of experience fishing wires. If you plan to supply the materials and terminate the cables yourself, you can probably pay a lot less than hiring someone fully qualified to do a turnkey installation (or for that matter, someone trained and licensed to safely do full-on electrical work).
posted by nonliteral at 11:56 AM on April 19, 2010


Follow-up to my previous -- be sure you purchase cable spec'ed for ceiling/wall installation; this is typically "plenum cable", and is designed to be safer should it be involved in a fire (not that it's likely to cause same, but some cheaper insulation can emit toxic smoke when burned).
posted by nonliteral at 11:58 AM on April 19, 2010


The people who do installation of security systems often have the skillset of hiding and running wires across great distances in an abode.
posted by mmascolino at 11:59 AM on April 19, 2010


A dedicated 802.11n bridge would be a good way to accomplish a fast, robust wireless link between your two locations.
posted by contraption at 12:00 PM on April 19, 2010


Electrician is the guy to call. Any licensed electrician has been trained to run low voltage cable. This is cake for them, and they will all want to do the job because they charge a lot and have to do very little work for the money.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 12:20 PM on April 19, 2010


"So I've made the decision. Wireless is nice, but the fastest the PS3 will pick up is G wireless and thatis resulting in choppy playback. I want to wire my condo."

I'm surprised that the wireless G is the problem causing the lag. (this shouldn't be an issue)

The bottle neck tends to be due to the internet service provider. Are you sure that even when you do hardwire the system that this is going to solve the issue? I would suggest testing this first before wiring your place, and maybe see if it is the ISP that is the issue to begin with.
posted by MechEng at 12:51 PM on April 19, 2010


I highly doubt that the ISP's connection comes into play when streaming across the local network (i.e. it doesn't). but I would second the recommendation to look at an N router - if your Airport Express is one of the newer kinds, it already supports N; you could just get one router for around $40 (or consider a Time Capsule if you don't have one yet - backups are great!) and skip the hassle of paying someone to run cable. wired is nice (and, honestly, if I was really going to do it, I'd run the wire) but N will stream high-def video fine right now; 108Mbit, even with overhead, gives you enough room for video streaming where G (at 54Mbit, which is usually closer to 25-30) does not.
posted by mrg at 1:13 PM on April 19, 2010


I'm not convinced my ISP is the issue. My current Airport Extreme supports N but the Xbox 360 wireless adaptor I have is G.

Has anyone successfully and SMOOTHLY streamed video from an Airport Extreme to an Xbox over G wireless?
posted by AsRuinsAreToRome at 2:18 PM on April 19, 2010


Your ISP has nothing to do with it.

An 802.11n bridge would allow a connection to the wired port of the 360; a bridge creates a wireless link between two wired networks. Here's an example of one with 4 wired ports, one for the XBox, one for the Blu-Ray player, one for the TV, etc. If you got a bridge with only one physical port, you could attach your switch to that and then plug your devices into the switch.
posted by contraption at 2:39 PM on April 19, 2010


I would still get an estimate from somebody to run the wire, but keep the bridge option in mind if the job proves prohibitively difficult/expensive.
posted by contraption at 2:41 PM on April 19, 2010


@contraption

So the wireless bridge will provide more bandwidth than my current SlingLink powerline adaptor setup?
posted by AsRuinsAreToRome at 2:42 PM on April 19, 2010


That depends somewhat on the details of your condo. Nothing ever performs as well as it's advertised to, but the SlingLinks claim 200Mbps and 802.11n is nominally 300Mbps. In reality, if the SlingLinks were getting 200Mbps you would have no difficulty streaming HD content unless your network is otherwise very congested (10/100 Ethernet is only 100Mbps.) Depending on the distance between your office and living room you may also see some speed degradation in the wireless bridge setup, but given that it's a condo (which I assume means relatively small and situated in a noisy power environment) I'd expect the wireless bridge to perform better than the power line system.
posted by contraption at 2:55 PM on April 19, 2010


I don't mean to dissuade you from running the wire if at all possible, it is by far the most robust solution.
posted by contraption at 2:58 PM on April 19, 2010


One thing to mention to any potential cableteers, who may not volunteer the idea: in the event of a crawl space deficit, crown moldings can really class up the joint while hiding a multitude of wiring sins.
posted by contraption at 3:02 PM on April 19, 2010


I actually just got off the phone with a couple electricians who do low voltage wiring.

Basically, I'm hosed.

I'm 99% sure my condo has no attic space / crawlspace. So the other option, if I wanted to keep the wires out of sight was to cut a huge swath of drywall out and feed the wires through all the studs and then patch the drywall - not an option.

Oen guy said that we should run the wire outside and then back into the condo, but that would result in eventual signal loss from the direct sunlight and water all over it. Not an option.

New crown molding would be nice, but thats a bigger project than this current wiring one.

still stumped.
posted by AsRuinsAreToRome at 3:15 PM on April 19, 2010


Other options might be:

The phone company or the cable company. At most of the sites where I work, the phone company does the data cabling and they do an unbelievably good job. And, at least Comcast in my area, lists things on their price sheets as "add additional outlet" priced out at like $28. You might try calling them and seeing if they do the sort of work you are talking about on an alacarte basis.

Other than that, yeah, a high tech security company would probably be the best bet. Electricians were trained on this stuff when they were in electrician school, but if it isn't something they do all the time, they won't have the experience or the tools to do the job right.
posted by gjc at 3:18 PM on April 19, 2010


Going outside is a possibility, but one that makes it more important to get qualified help (penetrations of exterior walls should be very carefully sealed to prevent water damage. You can get "direct burial" CAT5e/CAT6 that will be ok in the elements.
posted by contraption at 3:30 PM on April 19, 2010


Flat ethernet cable works pretty well in these instances. I just needed to get from my office to my TV, I ran about 50 feet of of it under the carpet.
posted by wongcorgi at 3:44 PM on April 19, 2010


FWIW, the Airport Express can work as a wireless bridge (you'll need a hub for your stuff near the TV, though). this would allow you to just buy a cheap N router to provide the actual N network, rather than trying to find a N bridge (for some reason, bridges tend to be a lot more expensive than a router).
posted by mrg at 4:04 PM on April 19, 2010


"... I'm 99% sure my condo has no attic space / crawlspace. So the other option, if I wanted to keep the wires out of sight was to cut a huge swath of drywall out and feed the wires through all the studs and then patch the drywall - not an option. ..."

Even if your condo is on the second floor of a three story building, your ceiling sheet rock is not likely just nailed to the underside of the upper story's floor joists. For sound insulation reasons, at least, there is always some "headspace" between one story's "floor" joists, and the story below's ceiling support. Often, there are other utilities in there already, like plumbing and HVAC conduit or plenums. It's easy to "see" what's up there with one of these, and most reputable installers will have one, which they might use in making a real on-site estimate for your job. The problem you'll have is finding any qualified electrician or network cable installer who will want to come out and spend time running one or two 50' Cat6 runs - it's just not a money maker for them at their standard commercial rates, and if they charged by the value of their time involved, their experience is that 99% of homeowners won't pay their freight.

Accordingly, check with some home theatre installation companies in your area. These folks are used to dealing with the well-to-do on custom install projects, and can get a couple lengths of Cat6 into nearly any domestic situation you can imagine. And, they can do so with without straining the Cat6 cable (big technical no-no) during pull, or bending it at too short radius, or otherwise compromising its data rate capacity during installation and termination. You'll pay several hundred dollars, minimum, for their services, but they'll show up, do the job, get out of your way, and leave nothing behind but wall jacks that work, and their invoice...
posted by paulsc at 4:30 PM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


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